The Origin Oman campaign made front cover news in the most recent edition of The Week. Ceri Edwards' story is pasted below.
When sitting down on a Friday afternoon for a hearty family meal, do you ever stop to think about where your food might have come from? For most of us, the answer is no, but a new campaign called Origin Oman, run by Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE) wants to encourage more people in the sultanate to consider just this. Dave Pender, Advisor, PEIE, explained that in recent years, the distance food travels from producer to the dining table has increased by around 50 per cent. This means that, for example, the ingredients of your next meal could have potentially travelled as much as 40,000km to reach a plate in front of you. If this distance was to be reduced, there would be potential for numerous social, environmental and economic benefits, including the reduction of carbon emissions, job creation, increased community spirit and financial gain.
In order to raise awareness about the need to reduce food travel distance, an initiative under the umbrella of Origin Oman, the 150km meal has been organised as part of Origin Oman Week, between May 25-29, in tandem with key hotels in the country and the Oman Tourism College, where dishes will be created using ingredients that have travelled no more than 150km. “The idea behind the 150km meal is to present information regarding the benefits of locally sourced produce in a novel way, which in turn gets people thinking and raises awareness,” said Ibtisam Al Faruji, Head of Marketing, PEIE.
However, this initiative is just the icing on the cake. Origin Oman is a rolling campaign, which began in January 2008 and its goal is to promote, not only locally sourced food stuffs, but also technology, manpower as well as many other products and services. Without detracting from the quality of importing products and services from abroad, utilising talent and resources from within the country can help to reduce our carbon footprints, thus helping the environment, as well as simultaneously helping to make Oman a more sustainable place.Moreover, the multi-faceted campaign is not solely concentrated on ‘Joe Consumer’, but also on organisations that could become more socially responsible as a result of sourcing locally. “People sometimes just need to be made aware of what is available,” Ibtisam explained.
As well as the 150km meal concept, Origin Oman has a calendar of initiatives that will be implemented to help raise consumer consciousness. For example, a debate will be held later this month between several colleges and universities in the sultanate to discuss the importance of ‘Made in Oman’ products and services as well as what contributions students can make to the future success of the country.“Oman’s future is its youth and if we can get the message across to them, that is a positive step,” she added. In addition, Origin Oman will be launching a competition for students, enrolled in Oman-based tertiary colleges, to design a logo for the campaign. “By encapsulating the idea of locally-made goods and services in a logo, we are promoting national pride in contestants as well as giving consumers the opportunity to choose products that could help their country and the environment,” Dave added.
Other initiatives in the pipeline include the Origin Oman Week exhibition, which will be held at the car park of Lulu hypermarket, Bausher. At the event, companies and organisations from a number of industries, including fashion, travel, technology and education, will be showcasing their wares and services, providing free samples and giving informative demonstrations. With these initiatives and more planned to help consumers realise that buying locally could be beneficial at a number of levels, it is hoped that people will now shop with more awareness of the quality of products and services Oman has to offer.
Origin Oman logo competition The Origin Oman logo competition was officially launched at PEIE’s head office at Knowledge Oasis Muscat on April 20 to design a logo for the campaign. The competition is open to Oman-based college students of all nationalities. As a guideline, logo entries should take into account the various places it will be used. The closing date for entries is May 20. The winning entry will receive RO500. For more information, go to www.peie.om/press56.shtml or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Entries can also be dropped off at the Knowledge Oasis Muscat at KOM Building 1 reception. For more details about Origin Oman, go to http://www.originoman.om/